I Have No Friends — A Novel and an Experience

Writing Background Stories

by Russell Dyer
published:  nov 28, 2017;  revised:  nov 28, 2017;  readers in past month:  354

There are several interesting minor characters in my novel, I Have No Friends. Several people have asked me about some of them. When I wrote them into the story, I had a sense of them, their emotional and psychological complexities.

Quite a while ago, I wrote short story involving one of the minor characters and published it through a series of posts on Twitter—you can see them in the margin on some of the pages on this site. The Twitter story is contemporary with the novel. Along those lines, I decided recently to write some back stories on these characters, to discuss in part how they became to be who there are in the novel, or how they happen to have come together.

So far, I’ve written one short story this past weekend while I was in Moscow. I was there working with Elena Kartushina to translate the novel to Russian. I wrote another short story during the flight from Moscow back to Milan yesterday. Although they’re a little more than two-thousand words each, they’re not yet finished.

As I wrote the second one, the one about Mrs. Stiehl, the custodian of the apartment building where the two main characters live, I explain in part why she is a busy-body and why she is critical of them in the novel. In doing that, though, I began to portray her as a lonely person, a person without friends. From there, it occurred to me that I could depict moments in each minor characters in which they have no friends, or push others away, or feel lonely. This would tie them into the theme of the novel.

These stories probably won’t be very interesting if you haven’t read the novel. They won’t spoil the novel, though, if you read them first. However, I think these stories about the minor characters might be a distraction as you read the novel. The novel is better served if you read it before these stores. For those who have read the novel and want more, though, these stories might be entertaining. You can find them by clicking on the Stories tab at the top of any page on this site.